“My Husband’s Sex Change” – Surviving a Genderist Spouse

November 7, 2012

An excerpt from Christine Benvenuto’s forthcoming memoir on the experience of surviving a genderist spouse was published in TheGuardian this week. “Sex Changes: A Memoir Of Marriage, Gender And Moving On” will be published November 13 by St Martin’s Press. Recommended by “My Husband Betty” blogger Helen Boyd.

Her middle-aged autogynephillic husband of twenty years and father to three children is consumed with his male-privileged gender fantasies of what it means to be female and Christie records the results. Some quotes:

“Yet Tom was interested in my relationships with other women. Too interested. Whenever I began a friendship, he would edge suffocatingly close. One time he called a new friend in secret to ask for babysitter recommendations so he could take me out for my birthday. After that, he often found some pretext – it always felt like a pretext – of doing something nice, and got his hands on a friend’s phone number, calling for advice or information and asking her for secrecy. It felt creepy every time.”

From his cheerleaders I learned that in the new political correctness, female solidarity is out. A man in a dress is in. Among women who consider themselves feminists, a man who declares himself a transsexual trumps another woman any day. One of Tom’s supporters would eventually sum up this perspective most explicitly: “He’s a transsexual. Anything he does is what he needs to do.”

These career women told Tom, and some would later tell me, that my wifely role was to support my man and to get my children on board with the project. My responsibility was to Tom. Tom’s responsibility was to Tom. In the Valley of the Politically Correct, being a transsexual means never having to say you’re sorry.”

“It is inescapable: for me there is something slightly creepy and more than slightly sad about a man in women’s clothes. Male legs in sheer stockings. The sight of Tom in an exact replica of a skirt that was once my favourite. It is creepy for one woman to copycat another, the stuff of thrillers. Creepier for a man to do the same. Creepier still if that man is your husband.

Looking back, I can say Tom was a wonderful husband, father, friend. Or I can say Tom was a fabrication. A fake, who didn’t want to be with me, he wanted to be me.”

Read more here:


[bolding mine-GM]

ETA: This is “Tom”: http://www.metroweekly.com/arts_entertainment/events/?ak=7811

46 Responses to ““My Husband’s Sex Change” – Surviving a Genderist Spouse”

  1. anon male Says:


    This argument reached an absurd zenith on the day he declared, “You only loved me for my gender!”

    “Yes,” I said sarcastically. “Since nobody else had that gender, I had no choice but to love you.”


    OMG, she is so awesome!

    • anon male Says:

      30 minutes later, I’m still struck by the awesomeness of that. It’s like one of the most incisive burns in the history of the universe.

      Also, how many of the comments there cite how dangerous it is for transgendered women as a direct defense of his behavior?

      Has there ever been a case of a white, pretendbian middle-aged one dying suspiciously? And I mean not of accidental asphyxiation in their own $20K sex dungeon?

      I looked through the Day of Remembrance site and saw maybe ONE example, but maybe not even that one. All the cracker trans need to stop frontin’.

      • Adrian Says:

        Heck, among those people who are actually murdered for being found out as trans*, how many of them are murdered by women?

        The cases I read about are pretty much always (1) a MAN getting upset about being “tricked” and thus possibly being perceived in some way as perhaps possibly somehow maybe a bit potentially gay because ZOMG I was attracted to what turned out to be a DUDE!!!! or (2) just extra hate upon hate for a man (M2T) who is so much gayer than ordinary gay that he’s femmier than fem and that’s just wrong and sick and so oh, murderous rage! or possibly (3) my friend (F2T) turned out not to be a bro at all but a CHICK and that’s just crossing WAY too many lines she’s so uppity and needs some corrective raping, I’ll show her her place!

        Yet somehow it’s always women who are held to account for not being tolerant enough, supposedly if women consider the M2T women then that will magically solve all the problems, as if those raging men above are going to care what women think anyway? I suppose the “pretendbian” bit is maybe a strategy, if you think men are going to possibly react in rage at your body you can try to force it on women instead, but… bottom line is all the talking about so much murders needs to focus on exactly WHO is doing those killings and why they are doing it, and it’s not women who are doing it. It’s MEN who have the power to change the situation of murders of trans* people but they are too hard to confront, or something.

      • citizentaqueau Says:

        $20K Sex Dungeon! LOL!
        Cracker trans be frontin! LOL LOL!
        “the inCISive burns” should be a radfem band name. Yes. So much win here.

      • radicalwoman Says:

        The overwhelming demographic group represented by TDOR are impoverished people of color who work as prostitutes, and mostly these people do not live in Canada, the US, or Europe.

    • anon male Says:

      I’m also struck by the number of people identifying her as having conservative traits. Of course, that’s part of the whole “you must be unenlightened and ignorant to think thus about trans, and therefor probably republican and frigid, too” enchilada.

      I’ll admit that a few of Benvenuto’s statements did come off as maybe “old fashioned,” in particular when she mentioned her husband had initiated all of their relationship milestones. But reading further, it was very clear that she didn’t conflate what she saw as her husband being a nice person, sensitive, etc., with any indication of “womanliness” or anything and that he was at his most macho AFTER his transition. She’s very clear on the difference between sex and gender. Her comments that can be construed as “conservative” are really all

      1. Statements of historical fact
      2. Analysis that her husband, whatever his gender, never indicated he had any problems with *patriarchy*

      Is that conservative? No way.

      I think it’s interesting to compare and contrast this narrative with the following:


      ask any normal person and they’ll say a man who takes his wife to a swingers’ party without informing her that it’s a swingers’ party is an asshole.

      Ask anyone who knows everything there is to know about trans[*] and they’ll be happy she knew how to make lemonade out of lemons, that she never claimed to be a victim (despite not divorcing him because her god would send her to a pit of fire!) so why deny her agency by treating her like one, and isn’t it great that she can now [re]educate other conservative naifs?

      [Also note the absurd picture of her with her late-husband: it’s like ALL these guys, cis, trans, whatever, have some sort of anorexia type condition where they have absolutely no idea how they look to other people?]

      • Em Says:

        Actually, it is a lot like anorexia; most of them don’t know what they look like to other people.Their fetish compels them to the delusion that they look exactly like the women they’re attracted to.

    • Anon Male Says:

      Maybe her husband got her confused with


      “To a certain extent, my love for my husband is rooted in his manhood.”

      Again, it sounds conservative and silly and unsophisticated, but how much experience do straight people have in writing apologetics for their orientation (rather than condemning others)? What could anyone reasonably expect her to say, even as a brainwashed “ally” who has a gaggle of trans friends (presumably replacing the Black ones that white folks used to collect!)?

  2. Sinister Dreams Says:

    I always wondered what the wives of these guys have to go through. I honestly don’t think I could stay with my husband if he changed into a woman, and he probably wouldn’t want me to anyway, but when the woman leaves the man in this kind of situation they are always written off as the “bad guy” for not sticky by their man. This looks like a very interesting read. 🙂

  3. KittyBarber Says:

    Sinister Dreams: Husbands do not change into women. They just change their clothes.

  4. Julia Says:

    This reminds me of a blog about recovering from csa that i read: http://reasonsyoushouldntfuckkids.wordpress.com/. The author of the blog is in the middle of a divorce with her husband who claims transsexualism. She details some of the struggles of dealing with being a survivor and her husband’s sex change (though the sex change had nothing to do with the blog originally). It’s really interesting and often very sad to see her dealing with this, and more than once there have been troll comments by trans supporters harassing her for not using the correct terminology or not being understanding enough of her husband’s situation.

  5. Adrian Says:

    I was wondering if I’d see this here!

    While I thought the wife was at first a bit rigid in her own boundaries for what behavior she would tolerate in her (man!!) husband before he ever started the change (though to be fair to her, I’m sure the fact that he had previously brought up gender identity talk maybe made her extra concerned about any slippery slope maybe), he quickly took the prize for “behaving badly” in this.

    Even if he is being so “considerate” about not dressing up at home, why on EARTH can the man not do his own damn laundry???? He knows that his wife doesn’t want to see those things and he knows that she is concerned about him seeming to usurp her role, and then he goes and mixes his clothes up with hers and makes her sort them out? What kind of person even does that??

    I think some of the early commenters who pointed out that in some ways this isn’t really all that different from the guy deciding to run off with someone else. Yet because “transgender” is involved, she’s supposed to be completely understanding of any and all changes. Heck, over on Tumblr (I know…) people were going on and on about how terrible it is that she considers her husband in some way dead (because he’s become someone else now), as if this “consider a living person dead” is some level of terrible treatment that ONLY ever happens to trans*, completely forgetting that plenty of parents disown their children for being gay or (perhaps most commonly) changing religion.

    If anything I thought she shoulda left his ass earlier, but of course things always seem simpler like that in hindsight.

    • KittyBarber Says:

      Finally! PROOF that M2T’s are not women: They don’t love to do other people’s laundry. Anyone knows that a *real* woman would never dream of having a spouse wash her underwear. Or anything else. PROOF that M2T’s are still men: This guy doesn’t have the “female brain,” which causes *real* women to be very good at doing the laundry, and to accept the fact that washing some man’s underwear is just part and parcel of having been born female.

  6. Grackle Says:

    “This was the emergence of the new Tom, one I’d come to know very well over the next several years. The one who intimidated and threatened, who laid down the law and expected me to abide by it. If Tom was becoming a woman, he had never seemed so male – a tyrannical bully he had never been in our marriage.”

    • Bilbo Says:

      Sounds like so many transwomen, especially of the Tumblr/internets variety. Proving that they’re soaked in male privilege and socialization by violently screaming about how they’re magically free of it. Seriously creepy.

    • zrusilla Says:

      It sounds as if Tom was perfectly nice as long as he didn’t need to use his male privilege/authority, but the minute he needed it to impose his will, he didn’t hesitate to use it.

  7. hearthrising Says:

    A heartbreaking story. The woman does come across as conservative, as commenters at The Guardian article pointed out, but it’s rather intolerant to judge her for her values. We can’t expect the average person to put an experience like this in the framework of mental illness or feminist analysis or queer theory or anything else. The average person doesn’t have a place to put this kind of thing at all, which makes it a hellacious experience to go through. I particularly found the comments that “she should have seen the signs” appalling. Like she should have magically known where this was headed. More victim blaming. But it did sound like most of the earlier commenters (I didn’t scroll through very much of it) were in this woman’s camp.

  8. Violet Irene Says:

    That was heartbreaking to read. I have been thinking about that poor woman all morning. The betrayal she must still feel from her husband. And the sadness she must feel for her kids. 😦

    Then I went to my local news and saw this story–might be something else to blog about Gallus, it’s terribly terribly tragic too: http://www.oregonlive.com/clackamascounty/index.ssf/2012/11/former_gladstone_police_sgt_ly.html

    It is completely taboo to talk about how the selfishness and teenage-like instability of transitioners hurt their wives and partners, but I think it’s another discussion that needs to be had. I have seen lesbian women suffer miserably in isolation when their partners transition, and then straight women like in this post, and believe it or not, that link I included isn’t even the first transition-related murder or battering I’ve heard about. Seems like the WIFE of the trans person is at higher risk of battering than the trans person! Huge, huge problem that no one is allowed to discuss.

  9. Bev Jo Says:

    Thank you so much for this, Gallus. This is an excellent reminder (and I will link in the groups I’m in) of another aspect of the trans cult: The wives betrayed by husbands.

    I’m upset about all females losing female-only space, and about men appropriating our identity to get into (and destroy) women’s refuges, rape crisis centers, etc., and men demanding we accept them as women and as Lesbians and even as Butches. But this is another level that really potentially involves all het women, because no one knows when these fuckers will decide to do this. As the trannie cult spreads, and the male “Lesbian” porn spreads, then this trend will spread, as aging men get bored with their very privileged lives.

    The deal that most het women make with men involves privilege for services rendered — that often means marriage, some semblance of financial support since patriarchy makes sure that most women are much poorer than men, a home, and status among family, friends, neighborhood, community of having that much cherished proof of normal womanhood: a husband. And a husband a woman would not be embarrassed to be seen with.

    I do get upset at women who look down on those of us who say no to men, but I also am outraged at what this woman and an increasing number of women like her are going through, as well as their children. (No, this is not like having a Lesbian mother or gay dad. It’s having a narcissistic nutcase who has a fetish obsession that is way out of control and is an embarrasment to the kids as well as their mother.)

    GOOD for Christine to dare to make this public and for talking about what we know she will be attacked for, which is exposing the truth about her husband.

    It’s time for people who care to stop focusing on men killing men who pretend to be women and who try to con het men, and instead question how many of the incredible number of women murdered (most women murdered are killed by husbands) have been killed by husbands trying to steal their identity, their essences, their soul, and their clothes.

  10. Marie-France Lesage Says:

    “From his cheerleaders I learned that in the new political correctness, female solidarity is out. A man in a dress is in. Among women who consider themselves feminists, a man who declares himself a transsexual trumps another woman any day.”

    Yep. She nailed it. It’s as if “Sisterhood is Powerful” never even happened.

    It’s disgusting and terrifying, all at the same time.

  11. LJ Says:

    I thought this was a very interesting piece for The Guardian to include. They normally have very pro-MtF articles. Off the top of my head I can think of four or five MtFs who are commenters there, including one who was a married man with children and another who has written a transition diary. This is showing another side of the story and I think the posters who got rather worked up shouting “cissexism” and “transphobia” probably need to view it in that context. The article attracted a lot of people not familiar with The Guardian’s broadly pro-trans journalism.

    For every wife who is happy (or compliant enough) to re-identify as a “lesbian” and go shoe shopping with hubby, there is another who wants her man back and who is bewildered at the loss of her husband and father of her children. The article raises entirely valid points that many wives will no doubt raise in this situation and flagged how non-female some transitioners’ behaviour can be but you can see how after the link was circulated online the comments turned into trans 101 lectures including from some usual online comment suspects.

  12. Loup-loup garou Says:

    “He’s a transsexual. Anything he does is what he needs to do.”

    Sounds an awful lot like the advice in the chapter entitled “To Wives” in the so-called Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. There’s a ton in there about putting up with your husband’s bad behavior so as not to endanger his fragile recovery.

    A representative quote:

    “The first principle of success is that you should never be angry. Even though your husband becomes unbearable and you have to leave him temporarily, you should, if you can, go without rancor. Patience and good temper are most necessary.”

    The chapter’s presented as if it were the work of an AA member’s wife, but it was actually written by Bill Wilson, one of the movement’s co-founders. He didn’t trust his wife Lois to do an adequate job, so he wrote it himself, and then passed it off as a woman’s perspective. Even true believers are more or less willing to admit these days that Bill W. showed every sign of being a malignant narcissist.

    It wouldn’t surprise me a bit if this poor woman’s friend’s response was a form of cultural trickle-down from the recovery movement — with a sex-positive, post-modern update, of course.

  13. zrusilla Says:

    “My responsibility was to Tom. Tom’s responsibility was to Tom.” A very telling observation. The unchanging dynamic is that when a man wants something, a women must get out of the way. I am wholly indifferent as to whether someone wants to be trans or anything else. It is the assertion of male authority, privilege or aggression over women that disturbs me.

  14. GallusMag Says:

    From a review of “Tom”/Joy Ladin’s book-

    “I longed for Ladin to turn that keen eye on the gender divide itself, and on the expectations and straitjacketing we all experience. I longed, essentially, for a feminist critique. Sadly, while Ladin has transitioned into a woman, she’s no feminist. Time and again throughout the book, she returns to banal clichés about what it is like to be either a man or a woman. “Like many heterosexual women,” she says, “my wife is strictly homosocial — her friends and acquaintances, no matter how casual, are women.” I’ve genuinely never met a woman who had only female acquaintances. It would make sense for Ladin to have married a very traditional woman in order to buoy up her sense of masculinity and be close to extreme femininity. But I’m dismayed by her lack of self-awareness.

    When they’re together, her ex-wife cries but Ladin doesn’t, because in that relationship, she says, “I’m the man.” She’s apparently unable to see, or perhaps unable to acknowledge, that the kind of masculinity she’s trying to perform is extraordinarily old-fashioned and that many women, myself included, love to be with, and are attracted to, men who can express their emotions. Her desire to watch “Star Wars, “she says, “plummeted with my testosterone level” — making me wonder what I’ve been doing loving it all these years. She notices that “when I was a man, pre-class chatter used to stop dead when I entered the room. Now they keep talking… as though I weren’t there — I often have to bang the desk or whistle to get class started,” but she welcomes this as a sign that she’s being seen as a woman, and she fails to consider how her female colleagues must have felt when she was given the respect denied to them.

    Working at Stern College, she admires the girls’ sisterly bonds — and is grateful to the college authorities, which allow her back to teach after her transition — but she doesn’t drill down into the inherent misogyny of the system in which they live. Orthodox Judaism prescribes gender-divided blessings in the morning: Everyone thanks God “for not making me a slave,” and then men continue with thanks “for not making me a woman,” while women thank God “for making me according to your will.” I have to confess, when Ladin resorted to the same bland apologetics I heard as a girl when I complained about the difference, I swore out loud at her book.”

    Read more: http://forward.com/articles/153010/a-transsexual-at-yeshiva-university/#ixzz2Bm9P7ytT

    • Jane Anger Says:

      The double whammy of deep privilege here, both by this man who wants everyone to pretend he’s a woman, and by a newly-tenured professor, is staggering and sickening. How cynical.

      • GallusMag Says:

        Within FORTY EIGHT HOURS of receiving tenure he announced to the University his intention to mimic and pantomime behaviors that he imagines are “female” and his demand that the University force women to pretend that he is female while in his presence.

      • Becky Green Says:

        Manipulative little fucker. All his colleagues probably have to walk on egg shells around him. Surely they realize if the rare, exotic tranny bird in their midst perceives the smallest whiff of disagreement or negativity he’ll cry, or rather squawk, lawsuit.

        “Shhh, quiet everyone, here comes the elusive tranny bird, let’s not startle him. He needs to take refuge in his magical nest built out of women’s shoes and clothing. It’s his biological imperative that he perch himself high above all others. And, he’s so inherently special, that even when he shits on you, it should be considered a good omen.”

    • anon male Says:

      Oh, neat, the 100% fatal condition only manifested after tenure was received.

      I wish my back had waited to go out until I had won the lottery. I guess not everyone’s biology is so compliant and forward thinking.

      LOVE how he thinks that none of his students know he “used to be a man” because those kids are


      *female? (and it doesn’t occur to him that they’re being nice)

      *luddites and have never used google?

      From one of his books there was a passage where he went on and on about how his wife’s gender impacts how she does everything every second of every day (she peels oranges like a woman would and should!) and now that he’s aware of gender and thinks about it every second of every day he became jealous that she was doing the same thing unconsciously. Only from her writing — not so much. But it’s perfectly ok to “misgender” cis people and tell them what they REALLY think!

      • Marie-France Lesage Says:

        His students would have to be blind to not notice that he is male.

        Delusional? Ayup.

    • I was watching that, but http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfLN1H5vKCs&feature=watch-vrec was in the related videos for some reason and clearly more interesting so I watched a bit of that instead.

      Also, his students would need to be both blind and deaf to not realise he was a man; has a major case of man voice.

    • Becky Green Says:

      “Hi, I’m Joy. I’m a very soft spoken and gentle woman. I’m kind and demure and not at all a man. Let’s all learn to treat each other with love and respect….etc….etc….etc.”

      Now juxtapose his well crafted public relations shtick with the reality his ex-wife revealed in her book.

      “What if you knew that doing this would destroy one or all of the children?” I asked him. Ice cold, the man I had once thought a wonderful father replied, “I would do it anyway.”

      This is off topic, but I think he looks like a domesticated Sammy Hagar. He truly puts the lad in Ladin. Oy vey!!

  15. Beauty and Misogyny is such a good read and there’s a section on this. Often the husbands will dress in women’s clothes at home, and expect their wives to feed their delusions, sometimes forcing their wives to roleplay so that they can get off on their submissive and masochistic fantasies, but then outside the home many of them will simply stick to their usual men’s clothes.

  16. GallusMag Says:

    I wonder what sort of grades his female students would receive if they chose not to pretend he is female. Now THAT is a lawsuit I would like to see.

    • Marie-France Lesage Says:

      I may end up being a test case for this issue. My employer and my state both have rules and regulations saying that I MUST pretend that a male “trans woman” is really female — using female pronouns, sharing the restroom without complaint, etc. — under penalty of losing my job “for just cause”, thereby being deprived of my income and of unemployment insurance payments, too.

      I’m actually starting to look forward to having an opportunity to be a test case on behalf of all American women. Nothing would make me happier than to sue these nut-bags and their fuzzy-thinking enablers all the way to the Supreme Court.

      Come at me boys. I will NEVER submit to this insanity. Never. I know there a plenty of other women who feel the same way, too.

    • Elin Says:

      But, it’s an orthodox jewish institution. The female students already have to pretend (or believe) some omnipotent man-like spirit controls their lives and created teh universe. Pretending (or believing) he’s a woman then wouldn’t be that hard.

      Anyways, this brings me to my idea that it’s not really a surprise that genderism occurs mainly (as far as my experience goes) in religious people or people with religious (Abrahamitic religion, i.e. judaism/christianity/islam) backgrounds, or from areas permeated with them. Abrahamitic religions comprise the belief in gender – in fact, gender, strictly mapped to the sexes, has for many become the second most important concept of all religious concepts (aside from the concept of believing in god). Basically genderism is just a subset of any Abrahamitic religion. It is sometimes hard to see because religion still permeates culture very much.

      Therefore it’s so bizarre non-genderists are being labeled “conservative”.. It’s like saying atheism is “conservative”.. LOL! Maybe the term gender-atheists would make the message more clear to most people.

      • Marie-France Lesage Says:

        I have heard the term “gender atheist” used before to good effect.

        I regularly post that “I don’t believe in gender”. Given the replies I get to that kind of statement, it appears to make (some) people think.

  17. radicalwoman Says:

    I’d love to sit and get drunk with this poor woman. My son’s father, many years ago, sprung the cross-dressing crap on me. He knew he was a crossdresser long before our marriage but hid it from me – I found out by accident. Unlike her (and because I was naive and stupid) I told him this was okay and I was tolerant and accepting of who he was. He began wearing women’s clothes and makeup openly. He looked HIDEOUS. He wore the trampiest tramp clothes he could possibly find, things strippers would throw out for being too risque, then he’d go on walks. One time the police picked him up for suspected prostitution because his clothes were that out there. Soon he had a girl’s name for when he wore women’s clothing, I can’t remember it now but it was some ludicrous stripper-style name. And like the guy in the story, he was convinced he was the hottest thing on the planet and was actually fooling people when dressed like this.
    We were divorced within a year.

  18. michelle Says:

    Although she hasn’t written much on it, Ms. Benvenuto has a blog that hopefully will afford her the web platform free from the censorship efforts attempted thus far by Jay and his buddies…


  19. […] Of course women are pissed at trans these days! It’s our own fault for letting Autumn Sandeen, Joy Ladin, Coleen Francis, Red Durkin, Savana Garmond,Jennifer McCreath, Julie Blair, etc become our […]

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